Friday, August 20, 2004

Exonerated by DNA

The American public has this misplaced fascination with DNA technology. The public tends to think that DNA is the make-or-break evidence in capital murder cases, when in fact DNA plays a role in a slim minority of cases. (Of the 115 people who have been feed from death row due to newly discovered evidence of innocence, DNA has only been a factor in some 12 to 14 of the cases.)

But as new DNA techniques surface, it has become a tool for both defense lawyers and prosecutors.

I mention this because the other day, the postal carrier very kindly brought me a book that's hot off the presses. It's called Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA. It's about Kirk Bloodsworth, who used to be on Maryland's death row before winning his freedom several years ago. Here's a blurb about the book:

This fall Algonquin Books will publish Tim Junkin's Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA, the gripping account
of perhaps the most significant capital murder case in American history.
The outcome of this tumultuous case forever changed the tenor of the death
penalty debate in America. Bloodsworth's experience, from conviction to
exoneration, is recorded in this page-turning story of a legal system gone
awry and in which justice is almost incomprehensibly elusive. It's
impossible not to read this gripping and cautionary tale without feeling
bewilderment, rage, doubt, hopelessness, and bittersweet happiness for a
man who fought the most powerful criminal justice system in the world and
prevailed. Most of all it's about the strength of the human spirit in the
face of unrelenting injustice. What Kirk Bloodworth makes of his life in
freedom is a stunning example of grace.

Kirk is going to be signing books and participating in a panel discussion at NCADP's upcoming annual conference. Meanwhile, to read more about his story go here and here.

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